The latest funding totals from the Canada-Ontario-Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) show the Conservative government is using the fund to disproportionately favour Conservative-held ridings, leaders of rural Liberal caucus charged Monday.
“This kind of blatant partisanship is immoral,” said Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff, who chairs the rural caucus.
“Small communities across the province are in desperate need of infrastructure renewal,” he noted. “Clean water and safe roads must be available for all ridings—not just those that supported this government in the last election.”
Of the total $46.4 million in funding earmarked for 2007, $40.5 million has been awarded to Conservative-held ridings.
In 2006, of $117.8 million in total funding, no less than $100.5 million was allocated to Conservative ridings.
COMRIF was introduced by the former Liberal government in 2004 to improve and renew public infrastructure in communities with populations of less than 250,000 by providing a three-year commitment of up to $298 million from the Federal government.
“The same Conservatives who promised ‘fairness’ and ‘accountability’ have completely politicized the COMRIF program,“ charged Kenora MP Roger Valley, who is chairman of the Northern Ontario Liberal caucus.
“This minority Conservative government has treated COMRIF like its own political war chest, awarding over $141 million, or 86 percent of the funding, to Conservative-held ridings.”
Boshcoff called the politicizing of COMRIF unacceptable.
“Under the Liberal watch, COMRIF funding was much more equitable and was provided to ridings regardless of their political stripe,” he said.
“Since the Conservatives came to power, COMRIF funding to Liberal ridings has slowed to a trickle when compared to their Conservative neighbours,” he added.